Live-listing: On a local bus from the rural south back to Amman
I was doing touristy things with my boyfriend and his college friends but needed to head back to town for work, so I hopped on a tiny local bus from the south for the three-hour trek back to Amman. It's great.
- •First things first, here's where I'm leaving:I was down in the Dana Nature reserve. Great for hiking, but very difficult to get to. My boyfriend has a car, but they're headed south to the desert and I have 200 unanswered emails. So I coordinated with our hotel owner (who we've stayed with before) to get me on the local bus in the neighboring town.
- •Bus schedule? What schedule?Originally the hotel owner told me to be ready sometime between 5am and 6:30am. He eventually pushed this to 6am, but my boyfriend had to drive us up the winding road to the town while the hotel owner was on the phone with the bus driver, trying to catch him on his route.
- •When the gender rules work out in your favor...The bus is nearly packed, and the only seats available are next to dudes. But WAIT, thankfully that's not acceptable and the bus driving makes one of the men in a single seat move next to another guy so I can sit alone. (There are two other women on this bus, also in single seats.)
- •I'm not dressed conservatively enoughThe other two women are in abayas (floor-length dresses) and hijabs. I am wearing jeans and my north face jacket. It is progressively getting hotter but hell will freeze over before I take off this jacket and sit on a bus full of guys in a flimsy white t-shirt.
- •All eyes on... the old lady?The old lady in front of me is a firecracker and loudly arguing with the old man in front of her. The rest of the bus is enthralled and laughing - she's clearly more clever than this dude and winning the argument.
- •Update: this old lady just fed the whole busShe's my new hero!! After bullying the driver into stopping for a smoke break, she somehow magically produced a giant plastic bag of donut-shaped raisin-filled pastries for everyone, and made sure I ate all of mine.
- •Update: we stopped for coffeeBecause you can't not stop for coffee in jordan, and these roadside coffee shop / grocery stores are everywhere. There are four other buses and a heap of cars, so the inside is absolute insanity. My need for caffeine outweighs my fear of getting left in the middle of nowhere, so I fight my way through the swarm and get an Arabic coffee without sugar and throw a JD at the guy (coffee is worth maybe 30 cents, but there's inexplicably a lot of military dudes inside so I'm not hanging around.)
- •My coffee-cup is Snapchat themedIt's yellow with the Snapchat ghost... and a knockoff Chanel logo? What?
- •The radio fluctuates between the Quran recitation channel and traditional Arabic pop songsGood vibes
- •Update: Police checkpointsPretty typical - we've been stopped by three in the past hour and a half. They pop on and say hello to the driver (and maybe check his papers) and hop off. I lowkey hide in my seat because I'm the only foreigner and I'm traveling on a weird passport situation (my old one expired, so it has holes punched in it but the visa is still valid, and I have a second new one with no stamps) and I definitely don't have the Arabic to explain this. All's good; driving on.
- •Update: people are smoking on the busWhich is fine or whatever but now the windows are all open and the cold wind is blowing straight into my ears
- •I actually don't know when to get offLike in theory there's an Amman bus station, but people just keep hopping off wherever now that we've hit the city. Will I be the last person on this bus?
- •Homeward bound!I successfully got off at the bus station and flagged a taxi who turned on his meter (instead of trying to haggle with me) and despite stopping four times on the way from Dana, I'm somehow making it home before 10am!!